Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gluten Free Holidays

I'm about to go Celiac on your ass. That's right, this is a gluten-free filled post, but with some things, you non-celiac, but gluten-friendly readers may enjoy.

The holidays can be a tough time to be celiac. What do I eat at these Holiday parties? Are naturally gluten-free choices like cheese and veggies safe, or have they been cross contaminated? Christmas cookies? Yup, the indulgence most people try to avoid, I HAVE to avoid, and sit and drool over them wondering if I could ever make a gluten free alternative to my mom's famous cut out cookies that would taste half as delicious as her's.

So, that's why I have a few great things for you celiacs and gluten-free lovers in my life these holidays.

Last night, I had a great gluten free meal at Wildfire Restaurant with my friend Kristin. I had eaten at their Minnesota location before I was gluten free, and it was delicious, but was anxious to try their gluten free menu.

Because of being in a nice suburb, and near the Vikings practice facility, the Minnesota location is a well known Cougar Den (if you don't know what that means, check it out on Urban Dictionary), their Virginia location had a different feel, with a vibrant bar area filled with people of all ages and several work holiday outings happening, making for a busy Tuesday night.

I had heard from my friend Amy that their gluten free menu was delicious and diverse, and she was not kidding. I had a side Caesar salad and a gluten free pizza with crumbled sausage and caramelized onions. Delicious. They have great gluten free practices, assured me of them, and I can't wait to go back. Plus, with it being a steak house, I know my husband will really enjoy this gluten free friendly restaurant because there's plenty of meat and potatoes for him! I meant to take a picture of my pizza before I ate the leftovers for lunch today, but it smelled so good, I gobbled it up before I remembered!

For gluten free at home eating, I found a great, easy, and wasn't even trying to be gluten free, recipe from Mellissa at Fit and Spicy Life I have to share with you all, her Bean and Feta Salad. It's easy, clean food, filling and delicious. I highly suggest you check out this recipe, and her blog for other great similar recipes. I made this in under ten minutes, and it made a huge portion!

Bean and Feta Salad for lunch!

Another easy to make gluten free recipe I've come to love with soups and salads is this gluten free cornbread. It is easy, delicious and no one can tell it's gluten free when I serve it to them!

Now, one of my favorite gluten free brands, Rudi's, is offering you a special gluten free Holiday gift pack you could win.

This "swag bag"includes: A Rudi's bag, a t-shirt (and I have this t-shirt, it's super comfortable, and great for lounging in), a coupon for Rudi's goods, Gluten Free Recipes, post it notes, a sandwich box, and a bread clip!

Awesome Swag Bag!

There are a few ways you can enter (and leave a separate comment for each entry)
  1. Leave a comment telling me what your favorite gluten free snack is
  2. Tweet the following and tell me that you did: "@AlexaTC is giving away @RudisGlutenFree #glutenfree Holiday swag bag, check it out!"
  3. Link this give away on your blog, and leave a comment with a link to it
  4. Leave a comment with a link to, or write out, a gluten free recipe

Rudi's is not paying me to endorse their brand, or do this giveaway, I am simply doing it because I love gluten free, great tasting, foods and want to share them.

The giveaway is open to enter until Friday, December 31, 2011 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

The randomly chosen winner must contact me at: by 11:00 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, January 3, 2012, or a new winner will be drawn.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For the love of my blender

Here I was rambling last week about the things I want for Christmas, and I forgot to mention the early Christmas gift I bought myself on Cyber Monday.

Yes!! THE Blender! It's magical really, it works so fast and well, and makes my cottage cheese pancakes even more delicious. I highly recommend this blender and am thankful Crate and Barrel had free shipping plus 15% off on Cyber Monday.

This past weekend, my bestest friend Ashley came to visit from Ann Arbor. I SO love when she and I visit each other. Our visits have definitly evolved from previous years. From wild nights of partying all night and shopping all day and spending all our money. To now, enjoying restaurants and movies while relaxing and shopping and only buying things we need--are we getting old or what?!

Cooper and Ashley spending quality time together

This weekend we did get some great Christmas shopping hitting up Leesburg Premium Outlets with my co-worker Christine as well. If you're in Northern Virginia, you MUST check these outlets out. They are the biggest ones I've ever been to, with a great selection, and although it's the height of the Holiday Season, they never felt packed.

We all made a great dent in our Christmas shopping, and I succeeded in buying nothing for myself. After I purchased the blender I decided I would not buy anything else for myself this month that wasn't a necessity. I really want to wait for Christmas for the fun surprises and try to save a little extra cash. It's December 13, and so far, so good!

This week, Ben and I need to finish up our Christmas shopping and get the items shipped out to our families in Idaho and Wisconsin. I'm dorky excited for our Friday night shopping date, eek!

I'm also going to try and dive into my friend Nina's French Macaroon Recipe, as I keep wanting to make them, but haven't yet, as much as I love to eat them. I absolutley cannot wait until I can sink my teeth into a French Macaroon from Cocoa and Fig when I am back in Minneapolis. If you live in the Twin Cities and haven't tried one of their macaroons, do it! Quick!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Wish List!

Not going to lie, this year my Christmas wish list could be considered pretty boring. We don't need much more "stuff," and there are there some things I need, but don't want to spend money on. Things like: socks for work, Smart Wool Socks (if you don't know what these are, you MUST check them out here), a cold weather running headband and new Tupperware. I always ask for gift cards for places like Starbucks, Target or Whole Foods to help shave off other monthly expenses as well.

As far as things I've found I'd like just because, there are a few, of course. =)

The Help on Blu-Ray. Great book, great movie, love it!

West Elm Square Lacquer Tray to add some Pizazz to our Coffee Table

A Pair of TOMS Shoes. They're cute, comfortable, and a good cause, as they donate a pair of shoes for everyone bought. There are so many different colors and patterns for them too!
Photo Source

This striped, reversible with thumb holes, running shirt from Lululemon. They have it in a ton of other cute colors in store too, besides this one. I love their stuff, I don't care how overpriced it is. It feels great to work out in, and looks good too. It's hard to justify buying it for myself though.

Tiered Shirt from Ann Taylor Loft. The Tiers hide my worst areas, and I love that. Plus, their stuff always fits me well, and runs big, so it makes me feel skinnier, who doesn't love that?!
Photo Source

What is on your Christmas list this year?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December is here

December has arrived, and the Christmas season is in full force.

This past month has been a blur with work, weekend road trips, thanksgiving, visitors, etc.

Ben and I went to Philadelphia to see my friend Megan run the Philly Marathon. She lives in North Dakota now, and we were Journalism School classmates at the University of Minnesota. She's constantly entertaining, as you can see by her "Gladiator" outfit for the race.

Megan did great, per usual. I mean, she was flexing her muscles at Mile 19, how could she not do well?!

Ben and I also enjoyed some touristy time in Philadelphia, taking a double decker bus tour and Ben eating THREE cheesesteaks in 36 hours.

We also saw our great friends Abby and Josh who Ben worked with in Minneapolis.

SO great to see them! They showed us a good time with great eats and drinks.

We enjoyed our first Thanksgiving in DC, and I wish I would have taken a more pictures of the AWESOME food! Our hosts Kristin and Suni made sure nearly everything was gluten free, including stuffing, so great! The turkey there was out of this world, as was the cranberry sauce. We also got to spend some quality time with Ben's sister, brother-in-law and adorable niece, and had a great weekend relaxing.

Suni, very proud of his turkey--and he should be, it was delicious!

On Thanksgiving Day, Lynne and I hit up our Turkey Trot 5K as well, and had a great time catching up while running. The best part of the race? It was cheap, a nice route, had a nice cotton long sleeve shirt I'll actually wear again, and there were coupons for free coffee and donuts at Dunkin after the race (Ben and I hit that up for sure!)

This weekend, will be spent Christmas shopping, hitting up a few new restaurants and finally seeing The Muppets Movie!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Back on the Running Wagon

Since I moved here, my running has been spotty, a few miles here, a few miles there. I had been training for the Twin Cities marathon and the Nike Women's Half Marathon in October, but due to lack of time to train during the move, and lack of time off to take from work having just started a new role, I had to defer on both races. I love to run, and had been really missing the miles I would put in.

Although, I had found a great running buddy in Lynne, who was training for the Marine Corp Marathon. She and I ran about once a week for a few miles and like with most running buddies, have become fast friends as we talk about anything and everything while the miles pass. She's now moving to North Carolina, but assures me she'll be back for races and runs frequently; I'll miss you Lynne!!

Anyway, after some hiatus, I did a few shorter distance races recently, including a five mile last month with my co-worker Christine in Chevy Chase. Her and I had a good time, despite some hills on the course.

Ok, we had a great time, at least when the race photographers caught us anyway

This past weekend, I ran a 10K in DC with my friend Kristin. Both races went well, felt good (despite the beginnings where I thought, "was this REALLY a good idea?") and have me jazzed up to keep running.
Kristin and I pre-race

Therefore, if you haven't looked to the right on my blog recently that shows what race I'm training for--check it out! I've signed up for the Rock and Roll National Half March 17th!! I am SO excited for this race. Lynne and Beth will also be running it, and my friend Katy from Denver (who I went to visit last January if you remember right) will be coming to run it as well.

I'm so excited to have this goal, as the last half I ran was the Fargo Half last May, and to enjoy the milder winter running weather out here.

I've also joined a distance running group to help hold me accountable, and to have a group to run so I won't be running alone in the dark on the shorter days.

Speaking of dark, I also invested in my first head lamp for this winter. The trails here aren't as well lit as the lakes in Minnesota, so I'll need the headlamp, even when running with the group.
I'm also planning to do a small Turkey Trot 5K near our place for Thanksgiving this year, and can't wait!

What is your next race? Better yet, what's your next big goal, fitness related or not?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Easy, Mayo-less, Chicken Salad

There are few foods I really dislike, the first and foremost one being bananas (as I've explained before, I can't even stand the smell of them), another is mayonnaise. That's one reason why I've never enjoyed chicken or tuna salads.

Then, Jen showed me how she makes a mayo-less chicken salad awhile back, and I have since created my own version of it. It's high protein, lower carb, and I think goes great with these Blue Diamond Nut Thin Crackers (I prefer the Almond ones, or hint of Sea Salt ones). I take it to work as part of my main dish for lunch, and it fills me up easily.


The recipes for this chicken salad is this simple:
  • 1 Small Can White Meat Chicken
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • Four wedges of Original or Blue Cheese Laughing Cow Cheese
  • Three teaspoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce, Original Flavor (I just give about five or six good shakes of it in the mixture)
And here's how the final product looks:

Granted, I added extra black beans into this particular one because I had more than half a can left, and didn't want them to go to waste. Also, I'm a lover off all things beans! I also love when eating gluten free can be this easy.

Below you'll find the nutrition facts, as figured out by Spark Recipes, on half of the above recipe.

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe

2 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 206.4
Total Fat 8.8 g

Saturated Fat 5.1 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g

Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 35.0 mg
Sodium 930.6 mg
Potassium 201.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 15.5 g

Dietary Fiber 4.9 g

Sugars 2.0 g
Protein 14.5 g

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween with Pumpkin Love

Happy Halloween Friends! What a wonderful autumn it's been, besides unseasonably cold temperatures this week, I've been loving my first fall in the DC area. And honestly, the cold here doesn't phase me because of what I'm used to in Minnesota, it actually feels a bit refreshing (at times).

In typical fall fashion, I'm loving on pumpkin flavored anything. This fall I've fallen in love with Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee. It's just as delicious as a pumpkin spice latte, but cheaper and fewer calories. Mix it with a little skim milk, and you'll swear it's a latte.

You can get it at any Dunkin store on drip (man, I LOVE living near these now!) or I've found the beans sold in bags at Target stores. Of course it tastes better fresh from Dunkin, but it's still delicious in your home coffee maker, and so much cheaper per serving. Oh, and Dunkin says it's Gluten Free to boot, yay!

I'm also in love with Trader Joe's pumpkin butter, delicious! At 40 calories per tablespoon, it goes pretty far too, as you only need a little bit to add flavor. I've been smothering it on my Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes. I've also been adding a half carton of 0% Greek yogurt to this recipe to add a further protein punch, but be warned, if you do this, add a couple tablespoons of water too so the batter doesn't get too thick.

I also have a goal of making a gluten free version (basically subbing in gluten free graham crackers for the crust) of Eat, Live Run's Pumpkin Cheesecake bites. They look delicious!

I'm also going to try this Martha Stewart Pumpkin Pasta recipe, I think even Ben could like this one!

Although we didn't dress up this year, we dressed up Cooper of course (and by "we," I mean me, because Ben just sits and shakes his head at this).

The Little Devil

Cooper was supposed to be in a costume contest at a local park this weekend, but the weather was so bad (sleet, snow, ice) that I didn't take him. So, now he'll just get to show off his outfit for Trick or Treaters tonight.

This post is part of the "Boo in the Blogosphere" set up by Sellabitmum and Four Plus An Angel. If you're in the spirit and want to show off your (or your kids, or your pet's costumes) hook up your Halloween posts as well!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Would you run a marathon nine months pregnant?

So, to answer the question from the title of this post, let me tell you my answer straight off the bat, no, I would not run a marathon nine months pregnant. Why? Not because I think it's crazy, because I know I physically couldn't do it! I can barely run a marathon in my prime physical form.

Anyway, people are talking about this woman, Amber Miller, who ran/walked the Chicago marathon this past weekend at nine months pregnant, started contracting during the race, and gave birth later that day to a healthy child.

Amber Miller, post race and post baby birth
Here is the Today Show's coverage on it, Matt Lauer ran his flapper during their morning show, and as a man who's never been pregnant, he should have just shut up. No one asks for journalists opinions, just the facts please!

Her doctor said she could run/walk it, to do half and half, and knew her exercise regimine, so I don't know what the big deal is?

What do you think? Was she putting she and her baby's health at risk? Would you ever run a marathon late in pregnancy if you could?

Monday, October 3, 2011

My "Green" Monster Smoothie

A lot of health bloggers show their recipes for protein smoothies, specifically, green monsters, so I thought I'd show mine. It's not very "green" looking, but it gets the job done.

I combine together the following in a blender:
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 scoop of whey protein
  • 1 Cup of Trop 50 Orange Juice
  • A big handful of spinach (I would say it equals about 1.5-2 cups worth)

Turning it into the following delicious wonder:


According to Spark Recipes, the nutrition facts on this bad boy are the following:

Nutrition Facts

1 Serving

Amount Per Serving
Total Fat1.7 g

Saturated Fat0.5 g

Polyunsaturated Fat0.1 g

Monounsaturated Fat0.0 g
Cholesterol45.0 mg
Sodium125.6 mg
Potassium801.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate37.6 g

Dietary Fiber10.0 g

Sugars21.2 g
Protein19.3 g

So drink up and enjoy!

Now, I need to make this smoothie even better, by buying this blender from Crate and Barrel I've been dreaming about for oh, I don't know...two years!
I saw a demo of it's impeccable speeds at a wedding registry event there before Ben and I were married. I put it on our registry, and we never received it, and I've never been able to justify buying it, even though our blender takes about eight years to get something smooth. Maybe this new apartment is the perfect reason!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe that's great for a hearty snack or post workout?